Nothing hurts a manufacturing facility more than unplanned downtime. According to the IHS, sudden downtime accounts for $700 billion losses across all industries. Although, firms that make use of IT infrastructure suffer the most, manufacturers also record 20% loses due to downtime. And what are the causes of this downtime? The study went on to further state that; 23% of downtimes are a result of human error, inadequate planning, and even natural disasters. And while no one can plan for natural disasters, there are a couple of ways to eliminate downtime caused by the former factors.
These solutions range from the integration of more tech solutions to simply setting one’s priorities straight. Here, we will explore the top 5 ways manufacturing firms can drastically reduce downtime, without breaking the bank.
Integrating Intelligent Motor Control Solutions
In factories where robots are tasked with handling assembling tasks, the human factor still applies. And here, human factor refers to the technicians monitoring factory robots and the risks associated with zoning-out while on the job. But when these losses could amount to approximately $326 million dollars, even the most profitable organization will have to take actions or face liquidation.
Although manufacturing plants are unlikely to lose such amounts, smaller loses could still affect a company’s bottom line. This is where the use or integration of intelligent motor controls (IMCs) in manufacturing robots comes into play. IMCs have the capacity and features needed to make an otherwise predictable robot smart. The use of IMCs can be likened to another version of automation targeted at OEMs. But in this case, instead of automating manufacturing equipment via computer systems, the robot is in itself smart.
Smart manufacturing robots will drastically reduce the possibility of human errors and the need to constantly monitor the production processes. Consequently, downtime will be drastically reduced in production facilities.
Increasing Automation across Board
On their own, automated processes reduce downtime while increasing productivity and we have the facts to back this up. According to the Annual manufacturing report conducted by Hennik Research, 44% of the production engineers interviewed stated that automation increased their productivity drastically. Consequently, the reduced occurrence of downtime led to increased revenue streams for companies that integrate automation.
This success rate is due to the ability of automation or control engineering to transform traditional production processes to efficient productivity plants. Working with automation software allows managers to install features such as; smart checklists and tailored alarm controls that can serve as checks against unplanned downtime.
In the automotive industry, Toyota’s integration of automation in many facets of its production line has led to many successes, making it one of the more profitable automobile companies in the world.
Integrating Predictive Analysis and Preventive Maintenance
There are many ways in which predictive analysis can be initiated in factories to eliminate downtime. One method is the use of predictive analytics solutions such as Microsoft R, Apache Spark etc. to analyze production data. These solutions can quickly spot erroneous patterns and raise alarm on impending doom.
Another method is making use of SolidWorks CAD to simulate the effect of pressure/force on a production component. Modules such as; SolidWorks Simulation Pro can be used to analyze the effect of external stress onparts and assemblies. This method of predictive analysis is useful to the ship-building industry where the effects of hydraulic pressure must be measured and tested. The results from this analysis can then be used to speed up the production process thereby eliminating downtime.
Downtime in production factories can also be caused by a poor maintenance culture. In such a situation, a poorly maintained machine or un-updated software can suddenly fail. This will definitely lead to downtime and revenue loss in certain situations. To eliminate poor maintenance culture, scheduling tools can be put to use to provide reminders or execute the available online updates when necessary.
Integrating Data Analytics for Business Insights
In today’s smart world, almost all components, tools and manufacturing robot produces data. And the data they produce can tell an engineer or production manager a lot about the status of a production facility. Therefore, collecting and analysing the data a factory produces can help companies develop coherent plans for eliminating downtime.
Currently, there are a plethora of data analytics tools they can be deployed successfully for this purpose. An example is Amazon’s AWS solutions for the automotive industry. Automotive heavyweights such as BMW, have integrated the use of data analytics to accomplish a lot. Firms in the automotive industry have sped up production times, created designs and developed go-to-market plans based on analyzed data.
The ability to analyze customer feedback and make changes according to the business insights received from analyzed data can aid manufacturers in reducing downtime.
Outsourcing Engineering Services
The core business of Toyota is assembling a vehicle system that works and this holds true for manufacturers across the engineering sector. And a vehicle’s system or any engineering system consists of different components working together towards a common goal. Therefore, while Toyota focuses on assembling and control process, it can outsource or the firm actually outsourced some processes to service providers.
Outsourcing the development of approximately 70% of its car parts helps the company focus on its key business of selling cars. And this is just one of the benefits of outsourcing. Outsourcing projects such as SolidWorks design plans also helps an organization speed up its prototyping process. Therefore, choosing to outsource to professional service providers is another great option manufacturers can employ to reduce downtime.
It is estimated that the financial cost of downtime can result in a $21,000 loss per minute or a $1.7million loss per hour for big businesses. This is why a proactive approach to eliminating and managing downtime are hot topics in the manufacturing community.
CAD CAM has done its bit by providing this informed take on the topic of eliminating downtime. You can learn more about outsourcing SolidWorks design tasks by speaking to any of our representatives here.